WASHINGTON – The evening of September 4 started out as a typical night on American University’s campus: groups of students withstood the humidity to lounge on the steps of Mary Graydon Center, while others filed out of Bender Library in retreat to their rooms. For the circle of students gathered on Bender Quad, however, sundown signaled a time to reflect. Continue reading
Anna Schiller, Communication Strategist of the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF), is running around the lobby of the Cipriani restaurant in downtown Manhattan. She is carrying her Mac laptop and balancing giving instructions to interns, conversing with colleagues on procedures and speaking to the fellow journalist that are gathered for the 2014 Courage of Journalism Awards in New York City. Continue reading
On the September 3, 2014 Michael Brown was supposed to start classes and be on college campus just like students across America, but he never got the chance. A large part of the students are just experiencing the first days of their freshman year. Moving-in days are over and the dormitories are filled with an air of nervousness, as students bustle around getting settled in. New friendships and bonds for life are about to be formed. Continue reading
Written and reviewed by: Julian Joerißen
When listening to Canadian-based singer The Weeknd one enters a shadowy sonic world of stark eroticism and drug-fueled excesses, always fighting the inevitable pain and shame of the comedown. Continue reading
From April 2010 to July 2012 Washington DC’s population grew more than in the previous ten years combined. This abrupt growth creates enormous benefits for the city and also brings enormous challenges. With a population growing by 13,600 people a year, city planners must contend with enough new people annually to fill the Verizon Center.
These new people – including a large percentage of young professionals looking for an urban experience — are moving into condos and apartments under construction in and around downtown, an area that had lost residential population for decades.
But what city services will these people require? More trash pick up? More schools? More wear and tear on parks? More traffic congestion?
Accommodating these new people is the job of DC’s Office of Planning. The Tenley Times’ political team talked with Rosalynn Hughey, deputy director of Citywide & Neighborhood Planning to get answers about how the city is handling the growth.
By Julian Berzbach
Is it possible and successful to combine synth pop and electro beats with Rock ’n’ Roll and distorted guitars? Yes, it is!! Continue reading
Thursday, October 3rd
By Audrey Arnal – Annabelle Legout – Maria Torstad
A 33-year-old woman with a small child in her car was shot dead by police near the Capitol after she led officers on a chase from the White House and rammed a police car, injuring an officer
By press time, the woman was not identified. The child apparently was not harmed.
Kim Dine, the chief of the Capitol Police, told the New York Times that the car chase started after the woman tried to pass through a security barricade near the White House. He said the woman’s car struck a police car on Capitol Hill, and then crashed into a barricade. A police officer was injured in the crash. Officers fired at least seven shots at the car as it sped off, according to video of the incident.
A law enforcement source told the Washington Post that the woman was not armed. In the car with her was also a little child, but the child seemed uninjured, according to authorities.
The shots were fired on Constitution Avenue NE near the Senate. The Capitol was locked down between 2:30 pm and 3:00 p.m. Nobody in the Capitol was hurt, but members in all Senate offices buildings were asked to “shelter in place”. Thirty minutes later, authorities lifted the security lockdown as police said the incident was over and the area secured.
Justin Herman, a 33-year-old government employee, was just in his apartment at Capitol Hill when he heard the shots being fired. He has lived there since he returned from serving in the Air Force in 2007, and he says the neighborhood is often eventful, especially in times of political tension.
“Every few years there is either a fake bomb or there is something going on around here”, Herman says.
This event occurred less than three weeks after the shooting at the Washington Navy Yard, where 12 people killed, and on the third day of the government shutdown. Police said that this is an isolated accident and that it is apparently not connected to terrorism.
Valerie Strauss, an education writer at the Washington Post, curls up in a beige couch in her yellow walled living room of her big, but relaxed home. The house is a red brick home near American University. Her blond bangs are cut just right so you can see her eyes smiling. She is twinning her golden necklace between her fingers while she concentrates on telling her story.
“I hate the word blog,” says Strauss, 57, a wife, mother, journalist and now a blogger for Washington Post. She shakes her head as she describes her discontent against blogs, smart phones and kindles. “I don’t understand why anyone would watch a movie or a TV show on a little mobile phone, I don’t get that whole thing. I love the actual physical newspaper. I love to pick it up, I love to feel it and I love to turn the pages. Today people live on their phones, it’s beyond me.”
Strauss was born and raised in Miami, Florida, and was the middle child of three sisters. She got used to being around girls, a good thing since she is now a mother of two teenage girls. Her father taught at the University of Miami, and this is where she took her bachelor degree in English and Anthropology before she moved to Chicago and Northwest University to take her masters in journalism. Her career is packed with admirable jobs, at Miami Herald, United Press International, Reuters, Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post to mention a few. She is now the education blogger for Washington Posts blog, The Answer Sheet.
When Strauss opens her home this second Monday of April, she is finished for the day with her blog. It is 5 pm, but the heat is still there, giving previews of the Washington summer that’s right around the corner. On the glass table next to the couch there is a water glass filled with ice cubes, very much needed on this warm April day. “Blogging is very different than writing for the print paper,” says Strauss, who is the mind behind the blog Answer Sheet. Prior to the blog, she was an education reporter, where the rules are strict and must be followed, like any other journalist.
“It’s a whole different mindset, the language is more casual,” the journalist says. “I write with a voice, and sometimes an opinion. But the opinions are always backed with evidence.” The blog is about everything concerning education, which she finds very convenient while she still has two teenage girls in the house. It’s important for her to be up to date on her daughter’s future. “As my kids got older, I realized that I could get paid to research things that would affect my kids. So it was kind of fun,” says Strauss as she laughs. “I never told my bosses that’s why I would keep doing it, but it’s worked out.”
It can be hard to move from a print journalist to a blogger for the same newspaper. The writing, and maybe some of the audience, takes time to adjust to. And Strauss did use time to adjust, mostly to the concept. “Blog; its not a word I like. Blog is actually a format, but now it’s become sort of like the word fuck. They use it for everything,” she says while cringing at the idea. “It’s an adjective, it’s a verb, it’s a noun, and it’s an adverb. It’s everything. There is something annoying about it.”
The Answer Sheet consists of short items, long essays, book reviews, videos, writing from contributors and more. “It’s really more of a magazine than anything else,” states Strauss, and she is glad its not only her voice and opinion being heard. “I have a lot of guest writers, so it’s not just my voice. I think that would be boring. The truth is it’s more of a magazine, but it’s called a blog.”
In the most southern part of the U.S., in sunny Miami, Florida, is where Strauss grew up and was inspired to be a journalist. It wasn’t the place in itself that gave her motivation and creativity; she actually didn’t like Miami growing up. “I hated the heat, I hated the flatness and I hated that there were no seasons,” she remembers. Her feelings towards Miami have changed, much because her daughters love to travel there. “My kids love Miami, they really do,” Strauss says. Sadly, her parents passed away, but Strauss is very enthusiastic and gets a spark in her eye when she talks about her fathers love for newspapers and how they received the New York Times in the mail. “My father wouldn’t believe anything until he read it in the newspaper. The earth could have exploded, but until he got the New York Times he wouldn’t believe it,” she says with a smile.
Maybe she was meant to be a journalist, because Strauss had always been a good writer. She was interested in writing and why things happened and started writing for the student paper in high school. “I kind of knew I would wind up at a newspaper. It just seemed like the only right thing to do,” she says. She continued at the student newspaper at the University of Miami before she went to Chicago and Northwest University to improve her writing even more, where she took a master in journalism.
One of her first jobs was for United Press International, and there she made friends that she is still in touch with. Some of them have also pursued a career in Washington and the curly haired and energetic Iris Krasnow is one of them.
“I have known Valerie for more than 30 years and she is by far one of the sharpest and most thorough journalists not only in Washington, but anywhere in the world,” says Krasnow, a bestselling author and journalism professor at American University who worked with Strauss at United Press International during the 1980s. “Valerie does journalism the old-fashioned way, with solid interviews, checking with multiple sources to confirm accuracy and is fearless in her mission to tell the truth. She has been able though to transfer her deep knowledge of the old journalism into reporting for new mediums, her Washington Post blog is very popular and well written.” Krasnow brings her students to see many of the most interesting journalists in Washington to give them an impression of what the business is like. “I can also add that in 20 years of teaching Washington Journalism Semester, Valerie Strauss is always voted as one of the students’ absolutely favorite speakers,” she says
After a career with UPI, Strauss has been a National Security Editor at Reuters and, again at the UPI, the Deputy Foreign Editor. It was with this experience she came to the Washington Post to work at the Foreign Asia Desk. She loves to travel, but didn’t work as a foreign correspondent, much because she got married early. “I chose not to go overseas, because I got married,” she says while shaking her head. She is now married to her second husband, whom she has her two girls with. She obviously has second thoughts about her choices in her early career. “Don’t do it”, she says referring to her first marriage. “Don’t get married in your twenties.”
As life with a lawyer as a husband and a baby at home became time consuming, Strauss realized she wanted to go back to reporting and focus on education. “The three of us were never together, my husband, I and her,” she says referring to the time with their first daughter. “I finally realized I had to do something else, and I went back to reporting.”
Her youngest at 17, Becca, enters the room, wearing a white tank top and black shorts with studs. Becca moves so lightly around the room, its almost like she doesn’t touch the ground. She has a dream of becoming something completely different, and college may not be a part of that journey. “I want to go to California, and I want to pursue music. I don’t know about college yet”, says Strauss’ daughter, knowing her mom would probably not accept that. “It’s weird because my mom works with education, and I don’t really want to go to school.” Her black long hair and nail polish is a contrast to her mother, but they both share the easy and welcoming attitude. She sits down next to her mother and plays a recording of her covering “Coldplay – Fix You”, on her iPhone. Her voice is beautiful and even though she didn’t inherit her mother’s interest for journalism, she definitely got her writing skills. “I never wanted to be a journalist, but she always helps me with my writing, she is really good at writing,” says the teenager with a grateful voice. She writes her own songs, and Strauss helps too. “My mom helps me out, and its great. She really knows what she’s doing with it,” says Becca.
Strauss has lived all over the U.S., but has been placed here in Washington since 1983. In the cheerful living room, Strauss discusses Washington as a city and mentions that it is all about power. “It isn’t a money town,” she says. “I mean, money obviously matters, but it’s a town of power, political power. That’s the currency here.”
If you would give Strauss’ home a currency, it would definitely be passion. Her passion for her family and her work shines through everything she talks about and when her daughter walks into the room you can feel her pride. “I’m lucky. I feel like a very lucky person, I have gotten to do what I wanted,” Strauss says while she reflects on her life and career. There are several benefits with her blog and one of them is that she can work from home. “I thought I would hate that, working from home. But I’ve come to like it a lot,” she says. But as anything else, there is also a downside. “I work hard, and have always worked hard, but especially with the blog you always have to be refreshing it and updating it. I even do it on weekends, so I rarely take a full break.” Having a family and a full time job as a journalist, which today basically means a 24/7 job, can give you a bad conscience for working too much and not spending enough time with family. Strauss realizes that this is an issue, and has never really come to peace with it. “Still, after 35 years of working, you’re thinking; well, I should be doing this, except I’m doing this,” the Washington Post blogger says. “You know, I never really gotten over it, but for me there is no choice, I couldn’t have not worked. I would have gone completely out of my skull.”
Follow our class’s footsteps from the inauguration, to Politico, to the Senate Press Gallery, to the steps of the Supreme Court, to National Geographic Headquarters, to the Newseum, to the Kalb Report with Jim Lehrer, Bob Schieffer, Martha Raddatz, and Marvin Kalb, to the Washington Post, and everywhere in between.
– Photos by Alyssa Goard
The Tenley Times reporters learn about environmental journalism.